23 Nov 2010
I love discovering value wines. The majority of the folks on this earth are average Joe wine consumers. The average Joe (or Suzie) consumes about 12-15 bottles of wine per year (I go through that in less than a month) and spends about $15 per bottle. Finding good tasting value wines has been a fun challenge over the last year. I have an entire section of my blog dedicated to “Under $10 Wines” and reviewed 30+ wines over the course of the year to create the “Under $10 Wine Team.”
Recently, by way of industry sample, I received 2 bottles of Parducci wine. I try to review every wine I receive (timing and format vary) but I was excited about the Parducci because there is a Spokane connection. Mike Conway of Latah Creek winery spent time at Parducci in the 70’s. It was while at Parducci that he honed his skills for white wine and brought the slow cold fermentation process to Washington state (cold fermentation brings out a natural residual sweetness in white wines at a lower alcohol level of 8-10%).
Parducci was founded in 1932 as the first Mendocino County winery. In 2004 ownership changed to Mendocino Wine Company, headed up by Paul Dolan and the Thornhill Family. Parducci makes approximately 200,000 cases of wine per year with the majority of it retailed at $10.99. Mendocino Wine Company moved Parducci into sustainable and eco-friendly practices being recognized as the America’s first Carbon Neutral winery.
“In recognition of Parducci’s status as the nation’s first carbon neutral winery and our continuing dedication to social responsibility and environmentally sound practices, we received California’s highest environmental award, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award in 2007 and 2009.”
The Nectar View
The 07 Petite Sirah (actually only 88% Petite Sirah 11% Syrah and 1% Viognier) is very vibrant and violet in the glass. The color is actually quite striking and invites a continuous swirl. Moving on to the sniff produces a mild aroma of dried prunes, wet socks (not entirely awful) and violets. The strange mix of aroma makes for a fairly interesting experience. On the sip the PS starts with a very smooth and velvet attack but quickly moves to a strangle hold on the tongue. Petite Sirah can be a little tart and tannic on the palate but in the right settings is a great food pairing. This Parducci wine has nice flavor and structure and begs to be drunk with food. Looking for a sipping wine? This is not it. Looking for a unique inexpensive experience? Give this a try. At $10.99 retail (usually under $10), this scores 3/5.
The 07 Cabernet Sauvignon is a combination of Cab Sauv, Malbec, Cab Franc, Syrah and Viognier. With 20% of the wine spending 26 months in new American Oak, I would expect a bit woody experience. Overall, the wood is flaccid J. In the glass the wine is moderately opaque and the sniff is very mild and tame only producing hints of fruit aroma and vanilla. In the mouth the Cab Sauv is minimal in flavor as well. At this price point you’ll often find under ripe or off flavors. The Parducci produces a decent smooth, easy drinking flavor that will not offend or surprise. Only $10.99 retail (usually under $10), this scores 3/5.
Paul Dolan talking about Sustainable Practices
Concannon Vineyard was one of the first established vineyards and wineries in the Central Coast. Established in 1883, their Cabernet Sauvignon clones were used to plant much of what is now Napa Valley. Known for their rocky soil Concannon winery was the first in the world to produce the brooding, silky and sexy Petite Sirah and they discovered America’s first female wine-maker.
The two wines reviewed below are part of a new effort of wines made from vineyards that are part of a conservancy effort to protect the land from urban sprawl. The Conservancy label consists of Petite Sirah, Chardonnay (reviewed below), Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Each retails for $15
2008 Concannon Chardonnay (Conservancy)
- The Stuff: 100% Livermore Valley Chardonnay; Aged in French and American Oak (no mention of time). 6000 cases, 13.5%abv
- The Swirl: Clean and clear with a nice yellow hue. Lacks the typical Chardonnay viscosity.
- The Sniff: The wine presents a delicate blend of melon and lemon with a hint of creamy butter on the back end.
- The Sip: This is one of those Chardonnay’s that comes across even from front to back. There are no over the top flavors, but the wine showcases just enough to be enjoyable and interesting. Good flavors of tropical fruit and honeydew melon. A mild undertone of vanilla from the oak is pleasing. There is good acidity as well. As mentioned in the video there is an off flavor (mineral) in the finish that struck me as slightly disjointed. Very subtle but distracting.
- The Score: At only $15 this can easily be your stand by Chardonnay. If you like your Chardonnay to still retain the traditional hints of butter, toast, and oak without being over the top, you’ll love this wine. It earns a score of 3+ out of 5
2007 Concannon Petite Sirah (Conservancy)
- The Stuff: 97% Petite Sirah and 3% Petit Verdot from Livermore Valley. 24 months in French and American Oak (new/used not specified); 6000 cases, 13.5%abv
- The Swirl: Upon the pour of this wine you are immediately struck by the dark and brooding purple storm clouds that role in. A beautiful bright violet ring forms around the edge of the glass making the wine feel less intense.
- The Sniff: Plum jam with a little more sweetness. A hot spice (or could be alcohol) comes through as well. The use of American oak is evident on the nose.
- The Sip: The wine softly seduces you with thin fruit on the front and then grabs you by the neck and chokes you with big try tannin and tartness. Those that like to play with Syrah or Zinfandel will not enjoy this wine. A decent structured wine that would definitely come alive with the right food pairing – BBQ Chicken, Smoked Lamb
- The Score: The lack of fruit on the front palate and overly thick back end lowers the score of this wine to a 3 (out of 5). Not a bad score, worthy of a try at only $15 retail.
26 Mar 2010
Six wines, two drain dumpers, two meh, and two certified “deals.” This is the result of the Grocery Outlet Challenge. Yesterday, I received a comment on my blog that I MUST pass along. Kelly shares this in regards to wine deal hunting at Grocery Outlet, “You have to kiss a lot of wine-toads before you find your prince charming vin.”
The last two GO posts have generated some of the most intense response I’ve seen to a wine review (over 100 comments between my Facebook page and this blog). This tells me two things, 1) people are looking for bargain wine in a big way and 2) people like the chance to win $50! For me the exciting part has been seeing actual consumers comment on the blog (usually wine blogs generate a lot of industry insider comments). I want to thank the hundreds of new visitors that have stopped by and I want to encourage you to keep coming back and to check out the blog links I read on the right side of the page. There are so many great wine reviewers there that can help with your wine buying decisions.
Today’s review is two reds and two labels that I recognize. In reading through everyone’s comments, this seems to be one of the themes. If you see a label you recognize at a price below what you would find at a grocery store, pick up a few bottles. The other theme is, if you’re into experimenting, be sure to just pick up one test bottle before you commit to the whole lot.
Now, on with the review.
- The Stuff: Sourced from a top Petite Sirah producer in Lodi then re-introduced to oak barrels for 12 months; 6000 cases produces 13.5%abv
- The Swirl: Dark brooding wine with a rusty purple tinge.
- The Sniff: Subtle and subdued but gives off hints of dried cranberry, blueberry, violets and nutmeg (Thanksgiving in a bottle)
- The Sip: Slightly disappointed because the nose was so nice, the structure seems very thin. The hint of cranberry on the front loses itself pretty quickly. The seems to be average tannin on the back end, but not as bold as I would hope for a Petite Sirah. Could be a decent sipper for some folks.
- The Score: G.O. says the retail is $15, but Cameron Hughes website says $11. The price I paid was only $6. At $6 I can score this wine a 3 minus (out of 5). Some people may love it, I was on the fence.
Cellar Tracker scores average 85 (with 7 reviews)
- The Stuff: 100% Grenache from the McLaren Vale; Aged 10 months in used oak 14.5%abv
- The Swirl: Brighter plum with hints of ruby red jewel tones.
- The Sniff: BAM – I just hit in the nose with a raspberry / blackberry fruit. Soft tones of oaky smoke are there too.
- The Sip: My mouth eagerly welcomed this Spanish lover! The fruit was intense but not over the top. It smoothed out nicely and provided just enough spice, leather and smoke as the finish lingered.
- The Score: At $22.50 retail, this is a good wine – at $12, this is a great deal. I score this a 3+ (out of 5)
Definitely the best of the six wines that I purchased.
Cellar Tracker score of 87 (1 review)
There you have it! Six wines down the hatch (or down the drain). Thank you for all your comments, encouraging words and suggestions. I love hearing about the DEALS you found. Please leave a comment for your chance to win a $50 Grocery Outlet gift card. You won’t be added to a mailing list and you won’t get spammed.
GROCERY OUTLET BI-ANNUAL WINE SALE IS MARCH 30-APRIL 3 20% OFF ALL STOCK
*All wine reviewed was purchased using a gift card provided by Grocery Outlet
31 Jan 2010
Baseball season is quickly approaching. The beginning of another year of great expectations only to be frustrated by June, slightly excited in August and utterly depressed in September. I am a Mariner fan. We are the only team who can win 116 games in a season and not make it past the first round in the playoffs. We are the only team who trades away all star after all star. Ahhh…I digress.
While the Mariners consistently field a team of high priced underachievers, I’m a fan of Billy Beane ball. Billy is great at fielding a team of underpaid over achievers. My goal, in the wine world, is to field a quality under $10 team. In today’s economic conditions $10 is the new $20, but with all the inventory and variety on the shelves, not all labels can be trusted. You don’t want to spend your money for a Richie Sexson only to devote four seasons of wasted expectations…again I digress.
In previous episodes I’ve found a starting Sauvignon Blanc from Arbor Crest and am thinking of a bringing the Dancing Bull Zinfandel up from Triple A.
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
- Syrah / Shiraz
- Bordeaux Blend
- Sauvignon Blanc / Pinot Gris
- In the bullpen a nice alternate red and white (Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Mourvedre, Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer, etc).
Below is this trip to the minors to scout new members for the team. What suggestions do you have? Share below some of your wines who are performing well and deserve a chance to be called up to the “Field of Dreams.”
Tonight we are watching the work out and batting practice of a 2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 Bogle Petit Sirah, 2006 Renwood Zinfandel.
2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 95% Cabernet Sauvignon 5% Merlot, Cab Franc, Syrah; Barrel aged for 16 months (1/3 new oak)
- The Swirl: Deep plum with watery edges
- The Sniff: Aromatically challenged for fruit. Did display characteristics of vanilla, cocoa, and woodiness
- The Sip: Overall a very smooth with that is tight on flavor. The vanilla and cocoa presents itself with a moderate dose of blueberry fruit. Very little back end structure.
- The Score: Considering the $8.88 price I would score this wine a solid 3. There is nothing offensive about the wine and the smooth vanilla, cocoa combination could be a hit with a lot of people. Serious wine drinkers will be disappointed with the lack of character and structure.
This wine will be sent to AAA ball for potential call up if I’m unable to find a starting Cabernet Sauvignon.
2007 Bogle Petite Sirah
- The Stuff: 100% Petite Sirah
- The Swirl: Very very dark plum, completely opaque, nice legs indicating some stronger residual sugar
- The Sniff: Once again a restrained aroma profile. Some dark cherry, dark blackberry fruit and a hint of spice trying to come through
- The Sip: Wholly wow, this is a big wine. There is some decent fruit on the front end which is immediately attacked by the strong tannin on the back end. This wine needs food! I look forward to pairing it with some BBQ, spicy pork, or a steak.
- The Score: At only $10 this is a big wine with some big back end structure that deserves a 3+. I would definitely consider this for a future purchase to pair with food. NOT A SIPPING WINE.
This wine makes the team as a pinch hitter. Petite Sirah is not your mainstream varietal but this one showed some serious power to bring in during the late innings of a close game.
2006 Renwood Zinfandel
- The Stuff: 100% Zinfandel
- The Swirl: Very light in color moderate brownish plum color. Can see through glass very translucent
- The Sniff: Not much on the nose other than hints of cherry, vanilla and leather spice
- The Sip: Very watery and non-substantive in flavor. A hint of smoke and spice as it lingers in the mouth. In my opinion a very underwhelming wine.
- The Score: At $9 I would not buy this wine again and score it a 2 (out of 5).
The wine definitely is sent back to single A ball to work on its structure and character.
The $10 quest continues. So far, I think I’ve sound a staring Sauvingon Blanc, and two potentials who are in AAA (Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon and the Dancing Bull Zinfandel). Tonight’s Petite Sirah has made the team as a pinch hitter!
Please leave your comments and suggestions below!